Thursday, October 8, 2015

The Truth About Joy

Five things I've learned.

Though you have not seen Him, you love Him. Though you do not now see Him,
you rejoice with joy inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome
of your faith, the salvation of your souls. I Peter1:8-9
We who walk the Christian tightrope (or narrow road if you prefer) have heard it before. Happiness is one thing; joy is something else. How do you explain that statement to the unredeemed? I’m not sure you can. But I’ve learned the difference.
Happiness wraps itself around the moment. It’s exhilarating. You think you can’t live without it. And then it flies away. But joy is deeper. It ignores the passing thrill and latches on somewhere between realizing you have everything you need, and being thankful for everything you have. Of course, Christ is all you need, and you’ve got Him.

But how can that be? What if I’m not so grateful for something I’ve got? What if there’s something missing that would add tremendously to my happiness?
Those legitimate questions rise out of confusion. Sure, I can clap along and raise the roof if I’m feeling it. But happiness is too soon replaced by anger, frustration, envy, fear, depression, or the worst replacement of all, I think, just plain old apathy. I don’t care anymore. And that makes me unhappy.

There’s a cure for what settles in your gut when happiness flits away into the clouds. It’s not for everybody. Most people don’t get it. Why? Because it can’t be gotten. Joy has to be given.

I really wanted to be published. And I got there and it made me happy. But it opened up a whole new world of want. I want to write more, publish more, and sell more books. Human nature? Yes. And reaching for happiness is not a bad thing. Will I ever get there? Achieve to the point of eternal happiness? I kind of hope I don’t. I want to grow as a Christian, to evolve as a writer. I want to become the person I’m supposed to be. And I’m pretty sure I’m not going to make it—not in this lifetime.
But joy is something else—far beyond the grasp of the seeker of all things happy. It’s oddly not based on what I achieve. Or obtain. Or feel. Joy just is. Here are five things I’ve learned:

1)      Jesus inspires joy, instills joy, and completes joy.

These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. John 15:11

2)      Joy is all about redemption.

Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” Luke 15:10

3)      Joy might not take you down the road to happiness, but it’s worth the trip.

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. James 1:2-4

4)      Joy belongs to God, and it covers His people.

Then he said to them, “Go your way. Eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions to anyone who has nothing ready, for this day is holy to our Lord. And do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10

      5)      Joy is most definitely not based on circumstance.

You have put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound. Psalm 4:7

Joy comes from and returns to the Creator. Even the earth is filled with joy. (Isaiah 55:12, Psalm 100:1.) Joy is because He is. Joy is mine because I’m His. I learned something else about joy: I might proclaim joy with my lips, but there’s more to it than that. So…
      6)      Joy has an “also” that happiness can never know.

My lips will shout for joy, when I sing praises to you; my soul also, which you have redeemed. Ps 71:23 

Many other verses expound on the depth and truth of joy. What’s your favorite?


1 comment:

  1. You are so correct. Joy is given and when we receiv it then even the difficult, horrible and trying times cannot take it away. We feel it, even when we are unhappy because we know He Lives.